The Affiliate: The Man in the Middle

“What is the quickest way for a beginner to make money?”  That is perhaps one of the most-often asked questions by any aspiring online entrepreneur.

The most-common answer:  Affiliate Marketing.

As an affiliate marketer, you are essentially a “man in the middle”.  You are in between the buyer and the seller.  You help Buyers find products and services they are looking for, and you help Sellers advertise the products and services they have to offer.

Becoming an affiliate is a relatively easy task:  you find a product or service that you would like to promote, and then you request to become an affiliate for that product or service.

The approval process is often automated and is sometimes completed in minutes.

Congratulations!  You are now an affiliate. 🙂

Becoming an “affiliate” is the easy part; becoming an “affiliate marketer” is where the challenge comes into play!

The “who”, “what”, “where”, “when”, and “how” of Affiliate Marketing (we all know the “why”):

Who

Virtually anyone can become an Affiliate Marketer.

What

Though the promotion of almost any product or service is fair game, it is best to initially promote products or services that you have knowledge of or an interest in.  This will enhance your credibility in your marketing efforts and could translate to increased sales.

Where

To an extent, you can market on email, Facebook, Twitter, or a website.  Marketing to each of these platforms will have a specific set of guidelines that must be followed in order to be successful (and avoid trouble).  Though there are many other marketing platforms to choose from, these have proven to be the most common.

When

Since most people check email or social media sites at the times of their choosing, “when” you send out your marketing message is not so important.  One exception would be “seasonality”–some products and services are mostly relevant at only certain times of the year such as holidays.

How

Though each of the above marketing platforms have their pros and cons as to their applicability to those new to the industry, they all entail a similar requirement:  traffic.  That traffic can be in the form of responses from an established email list, Facebook fans, a Twitter following, or website visitors.  A beginner will probably not have either….

So, how does a beginner begin? 🙂

Start by discovering which medium you are most comfortable with or comfortable learning.

To market affiliate products via email, you must first establish an email list targeted to people who are interested in the product or service.  This introduces additional requirements that must be satisfied:

  • An email autoresponder (service/software that manages your email list)
  • An “opt-in” form or method (the mechanics of getting people to submit their email address to you)

To market affiliate products via Facebook, you need the following:

  • A Facebook account
  • A Facebook Fan Page (usually used to redirect the fan traffic to a “storefront” or “landing page”)
  • Fan Page followers (usually measured in the number of “likes” the fan page has)

To market affiliate products via Twitter, you need the following:

  • A Twitter account
  • A Twitter following  (due to the nature of constant Twitter streaming, a rather large following is required along with frequent “tweets”)

To market affiliate products via a website, you need the following:

  • A domain name
  • A domain hosting account
  • A website platform (WordPress, or another platform which serves as a storefront)

All of the above is a simplification of the tools and processes needed to conduct an affiliate marketing campaign.  As the saying goes, it simple, but it is not easy!

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the shortest path (or path with the least steps) is the easiest; it may be the path that involves the most time spent in research and methodology.

Here is a time-honored method for engaging in affiliate marketing.

  1. Find a “niche” (specific topic) that you are interested in marketing to
  2. Set up a website that will cater to the interests of that niche
  3. Set up an opt-in form on the website to capture the emails of the website visitors
  4. Send out occasional emails that include the links to the affiliate products/services that you wish to promote
Each of the above steps will require some forethought as to how they are approached and implemented.
The key to the above approach (or any approach) is obtaining “seed” traffic, the initial traffic of potential buyers who don’t know you or trust you as a reliable source (yet).  How do you get them to know and trust you?  Provide value.  Offer a free report, newsletter, or relevant gift that will provide some benefit to the subscriber.

 

Though obtaining traffic may initially seem like a problem, there is actually plenty of traffic available; there are “free” traffic generation methods and “paid” traffic generation methods.  The methods for obtaining “free” (unpaid) traffic will cost you time–sometimes, a considerable amount of time establish your desired following.  Paid traffic will get you faster results, with an initially greater out-of-pocket expense.

Since it makes good financial sense for most people and businesses to “cut out the middle man”, it should make good sense to the aspiring affiliate marketer to provide as much added value (reports, reviews, etc.) as possible!  This will ensure that your audience looks forward to your input on the product as a trusted advisor from whom they are happy to purchase.

Enjoy. 🙂



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